28 January 2013

Liberia: 'Repeal Anti-Press Laws' - Gongloe

Human Rights Lawyer Tiawan Gongloe has challenged President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to submit a bill to the 53rd Liberian Legislature for the repeal of three anti-press laws here that continue to intimidate journalists.

Delivering a keynote address in Monrovia on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at an Award and Dinner Night to climax celebrations of the 3rd anniversary of the New Dawn Newspaper held at the Bella Casa Hotel, Cllr. Gongloe suggested that government and its functionaries can overcome negative public views expressed through the media by the integrity and intellectual power of those governing the country, rather than the use of "brute force."

He cited the three anti-press laws as Sedition, Criminal Libel against the President and Criminal Malevolence, used by previous administrations to intimidate the press.

"Liberia must be a country where an untrue story about the government and its functionaries can be corrected by the power of the true told, intelligently, by the functionaries of government and not by the use of police power," stressed Gongloe, who formerly served in the Sirleaf Administration.

He said in order to promote greater freedom and tolerance of the media in Liberia, laws that could be used by government and its functionaries, including the powerful in society to hinder press freedom must be repealed.

He earlier told the gathering of media executives, government officials and members of the diplomatic corps that "One of the impediments that have delayed the building of Liberia is intolerance of the government and its functionaries of views that are different from those held by government."

The human rights lawyer however, observed that while there have been reports of media intolerance and intimidation of journalists in the past and present government, the frequency of arrest and intimidation of journalists in the Sirleaf-led government cannot be compared to the past.

Meanwhile, Cllr. Gongloe has urged employees of the New Dawn Newspaper, who were honored to see their awards as a challenge to work hard to remain among the role models of Liberia, saying "We will all watch you, including the very institution that is honoring you tonight."

At the award night, New Dawn Newspaper certificated Judicial Reporter Winston W. Parley, Most Improved Reporter and Legislative Reporter E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor, Most Lead Stories Writer. Other staff that were Also honored included Moses Hinneh, Office Attendant; Layout and Graphic Designer, Emmanuel Judu, and Circulation Officer Sam Harris, from the Editorial, Administration and Printing departments, respectively.

Liberia's Peace Ambassador and political leader of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) George Weah was also awarded for his media tolerance.

The Lone Star Cell MTN was among other business institutions awarded for its high level advertisement with the paper, including the Finance Ministry, among others.

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